INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 15, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Englishtown, New Jersey, this weekend for the NHRA Nationals at Old Bridge Township ...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 15, 2006) -- Cruz Pedregon, the 1992 NHRA Nitro Funny Car world champion, and his Advance Auto Parts Nitro Funny Car Team are headed to Englishtown, New Jersey, this weekend for the NHRA Nationals at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park for the 11th of 23 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events in 2006. Pedregon was the #1 qualifier at this event last year.
"The Englishtown event was actually my first win as a team owner, so the facility will always be special to me," Pedregon said of the upcoming stop on the NHRA tour. "I really like that track because it has great people, a great crowd, and it's always a big show. It's like our east coast Pomona. They have so many fans in New Jersey who love racing. I've won there before (1995, 2000), and I'd love to win again. It's not far from the water, it's got good air, good trees and our Advance Auto Parts car runs really well there."
The racing season is non-stop, and occasionally events are held on holidays. This week, the NHRA drag racers will be running their final eliminations on Father's Day: "To race on Father's Day makes it extra special for us, although I don't need a special day to remember my dad (Frank Sr.)."
During his rookie season in Funny Car in 1992, Pedregon won the NHRA world championship. With this accomplishment he became the only racer other than John Force to win the championship in the 90s. In 1997, Pedregon was also the first motorsports athlete to receive the "Premio De Oro," the only national award for Hispanic athletes. Born into a racing family, Pedregon's father, Frank, raced Top Fuel dragsters in the 1960s. His brothers Tony and Frank also compete in the Nitro Funny Car ranks. In 1980, Cruz won his first official drag race at the age of 15, driving a 1953 Kenworth truck.
One of NHRA's original seven national events, this race is steeped in legend. In many ways, it's the East Coast's Pomona: a legendary facility, some of the sport's most knowledgeable (and definitely most boisterous) fans, and more dramatic moments than a weeklong History Channel marathon. The event, once known as the Summernationals, has shifted on the NHRA schedule from its original scorchingly hot and humid July slot to May and now to Father's Day, and upsets have become the norm. Its proximity to New York has assured a parade of celebrity fans, including local legend Bruce Springsteen.
Englishtown is about 20 miles south of Newark Int'l Airport, 35 miles south of New York City, and 55 miles north of Philadelphia. The track is on Pension Road, two miles north of Englishtown. From the New Jersey Turnpike, use Exit 8 (Route 33) or Exit 9 (Route 18). From Route 33, travel east to Route 527 (Englishtown exit), then north to the track. From Route 18, travel east to Route 527 (Englishtown exit), then south to the track. The main entrance is on Pension Road, which runs off Route 527 west of the track.
After conquering the quarter-mile Old Bridge Township Raceway Park this weekend, the NHRA warriors head to St. Louis and the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Int'l Raceway on June 23-25. Check your local ESPN2 listings for broadcast times and event coverage.